Article: Answering the 'Why' unlocks possibilities: Satyajit Menon, Innovaccer

Strategic HR

Answering the 'Why' unlocks possibilities: Satyajit Menon, Innovaccer

In conversation with People Matters, Satyajit Menon, VP - People Operations, Innovaccer talks about building succession pipelines to mitigate resource risks, capability building to nurture the next generation of functional and domain experts, and rewriting the rules of employee engagement.
Answering the 'Why' unlocks possibilities: Satyajit Menon, Innovaccer

Satyajit Menon is presently Vice President - People Operations at Innovaccer, and people strategy advisor to some of the top new-age tech startups in India and the US. He joined Innovacer in 2017 and is leading talent strategy and implementation at the software firm.

Menon comes with an experience of over 20 years across financial services, ecommerce, outsourcing, capital markets and information technology with some of the leading brands in the likes of GE Capital, Fidelity International, Lehman Brothers, Snapdeal, Vertex.

His areas of expertise include employee relations, consulting for leadership teams, policy design and compliance, among other critical HR functions and strategies.  Menon has a strong track record of building excellent succession planning methods, promoting internal HR growth, and managing employee impact on business redundancies.

In conversation with People Matters, Menon talks about building succession pipelines to mitigate resource risks, capability building to nurture the next generation of functional and domain experts, and rewriting the rules of employee engagement with 'Friday hotline', among other initiatives.

As a talent leader, what are your key priorities in navigating the ongoing disruption?

We are aggressively hiring talent across engineering, marketing, product, and delivery for our offices in India and the US. Along with our urgent need to build capacity, some of the other strategic initiatives are centered around building on our existing and robust learning and development framework that will enable us to identify, upskill and cross-skill key roles, and build a strong succession pipeline to mitigate resource risks during the pandemic. During this journey, we have identified the well-being and wellness of our people as a priority so that we enable a more empathetic culture across the board during these unprecedented times. 

What does ‘continuous reinvention’ represent for Innovaccer? What are some significant shifts that the organization witnessed, in mindset and practice, as an outcome of the instances of 2020?

At Innovaccer, we believe that we had a head-start working around the new normal.

Our flexible and non-bureaucratic approach towards work, being outcomes-focused, fluid people practices, and the appetite to take risky bets are at the heart of everything we do.

Some of the pivotal shifts were around us being able to create a truly global workforce across all skills without compromising on top talent, investing heavily in the emotional wellness of our people, and rewriting the rules of employee engagement to ensure we talked regularly via our monthly townhalls, weekly podcasts of business best practices and a Friday hotline for people to talk about pretty much anything they want. Each of our leaders has played a significant role in overcommunicating with their teams to make sure we are part of one team. 

What behavioral attributes do you think are critical to maintaining and building business sustainability? How are you connecting these attributes with talent practices such as hiring, skilling, promotions, and rewards?

Our culture code at Innovaccer defines how we work in the company. Broadly speaking, humility, resilience and agility are some of the key behavioral attributes we look for. Our core values are deeply embedded and probed upon when hiring, promoting or recognizing our talent. Our performance philosophy triggers transparency where we value a more holistic feedback method as opposed to one-way or two-way methodologies. Every employee event that has a significant impact involves living and breathing the Innovaccer culture code.

How are you shaping talent strategies to enable a seamless employee experience at a time when employees express increased levels of stress and burnout?

These are very tough times for everyone and we understand that in the new world our employees are balancing work and familial pressures simultaneously. Our spirit of transparency and empathy encourages everyone to call out the so-called 'dark hours' or 'personal time' which indicates a kind of DND. This helps employees take care of their domestic tasks. Our Employee Assistance partner caters to every support that our employees would need and all of that is strictly confidential. Our fun committee called 'Ministry of fun' packs a real punch with a plethora of virtual games and events that have been a roaring success in the company.

The key thing is to keep the conversations going with our people and to be able to better support them in their time of need.  

With a significant global focus on the healthcare industry, what are some critical areas under capability building for Innovaccer to prepare the workforce for the uncertainties that lie ahead?

Innovaccer is in a unique space, disrupting some of the core fundamentals that US healthcare has been battling for many years. We are primarily a technology organization but it is equally important for our people to have shared context about the industry we serve. Innovaccer Academy plays a crucial role around capability building that nurtures the next generation of functional and domain experts with the help of our external and internal technology and healthcare experts.

Every intervention to build a specific capability comes with a stringent assessment framework that prepares our talent for all curve balls that get thrown.

Our external advisors and leadership teams play a pivotal role in mentoring and grooming our young talent which brings about a stronger perspective of what we do fundamentally for our customers.

What role will ‘purpose’ play in the new post-pandemic world of work? What is the role of business leaders to embed purpose into business strategy?

In a fast-paced technology company, it is normal to go solve for the 'What', the 'How' and the 'When' but it is extremely painful when the conversation meanders over 'Why' and to me, that really stands for purpose. Answering the 'Why' opens the lock to all sorts of possibilities and helps you filter through the clutter of ideas and eventually come up with the most viable solution for our customers. In order to align matrixed teams, it is important for leaders to solve the puzzle of 'Purpose'. It prioritizes, clarifies, and simplifies the basic question of 'What next' and 'why'. If leaders are able to agree on the purpose and clarify that for their teams, the effort taken to align teams on goals becomes a bit easier. A leader's role is to contextualize the 'Why'. If the purpose is clarified and communicated transparently by leaders, I am certain that the baton can be passed on to the managers to then figure out the 'What', 'How', and 'When'.

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Topics: Strategic HR, Culture, #ReinventToReimagine

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